Marrying that Special Bi-polar Someone
“You know, you should get another woman. She would be good for you.” Often times, you hear that from family and friends who are disapproving of your significant other. It is shocking to hear it directly from your spouse. Yet I do. It happens more often than I care to admit. We are not in an open marriage, it’s not like she is giving me a pass to see other people so she can see some herself. She has a much more somber intent.
We met online fourteen years ago on a pre-facebook, pre-myspace world. We met over music and our relationship blossomed from there. With instant messaging chats, and phone cards so we could call collect back when that was a thing you had to worry about. I will always remember those early phone calls because I had to save up to purchase them. Our love grew quickly but it was not without some hiccups.
Both of us were pretty good students in high school; she actually having a higher gpa than me. But I had the familial support to finish high school and go on to college and she …didn’t. Her family was much more “practical,” coming from a rural part of the country where higher education was appreciated only if it served the immediate. She would have been lucky to get an associates degree from one of the local diploma mills. More then that she felt that her life was too big for this small town and wanted to get away from the family that for so long seemed to impede her, stifle her chance at success.
I wanted to help. I was already going to a public four year university and could see first hand the benefits that come with that kind of life experience. My zealous nature, though, blinded me to what I was asking to put my family through. To them, she was a stranger. Not only a stranger, but she came from a broken home halfway ‘round the country. Why would they have to care for her. Because she had my blessing? Things came to a head when I did not finish college, not because I did not want to, but because a bureaucratic snafu had me two units shy of a finished degree.
By the time I got home I could see the strain of my relationships. My family distrusting my future wife; she terrified of her own safety. Cracks in her personality began to appear, or rather I was just starting to notice them. In either case, it became apparent that a tipping point had been reached in my family’s’ mind and I had to chose: her or them. In the end I know I made the right decision, the only decision I could of made. And yet, like all decisions you made in life, it nags me. I did not have to stand by her, she knew that it was asking too much. My family was happy to part ways and would not see my decision as cowardice. I saw her as a person rejected by society, never given the chance to grow.
I packed my things and left with her. I know it hurt my family, but I had to stand behind the one person who I felt needed my protection. We moved into the town where she grew up; even relying on the same people that she had despised, before we finally had our own place.Then more cracks started to show. Admittedly I gave the place no love, I was planning on contributing to the arts, and the place seemed utterly devoid of it. It was full with nice people that had none of my interests. I squandered there as we marauded about trying to figure out the next stage in our lives. And maybe that gave her the focus she needed.
From the time I met her she was skittish, lacking in social graces. I just thought that was apart of her upbringing, something that I could help her with. I realize now that it was systemic to her very personality. Her bipolar condition made it awkward to connect with people in the best of time and disastrous in the worst. When she wants to be approachable, she is usually put off by some fassett on the other person, but it socio-political or just manic rush of being in the conversation too long. We have learned to spend long hours alone in a room together saying nothing at all. Which is as much to my benefit as it is to her. I am extremely empathic and make it a point of pride to use nonverbal communication to express positive emotions when it is so easy to use language to be negative.
And she would know how to use language negatively; she knows six of them. She’s smart, and sometimes she uses that against herself. She creates these harmful self-fulfilling prophecies that come true when she inevitably crashes. And it is painful to watch her go through it, because she has accomplished a lot. She’s written a novel that she’s scared to publish. She put her graphic design work up under a pseudonym, and had someone else assume the identity. She has the drive and desire to commit to the arts, and the manic, tragic backstory that stifles the best of them.
I try to support her, I do. I want to see her succeed. But now we’re a family, and our little girl needs a mother to look up to. My wife recognizes this but still, the old ways are comforting. I dare her everyday to keep it up, get back into it and in part that is how this essay came to be. For just as I push her to commit to her projects, she presses upon me that I need to complete mine. I fancy myself a writer but in truth everything I write comes up half-baked. Typically, it is because I align myself with projects that never are completed; and usually I bare some of the responsibility in that. I’m writing this essay, one of a series I hope, that will instill her with the courage to continue and provide an example to our wonderful little girl that there is no shame in falling down; so long as you pick yourself back up again.